IV. Cape Peninsula: Flora

The rare and endemic giant Protea, the Silvertree (Leucadendron argenteum) -'Witteboom' - on the lower slopes of the Devil's Peak
The rare and endemic giant Protea, the Silvertree (Leucadendron argenteum) -'Witteboom' - on the lower slopes of the Devil's Peak

We were extremely lucky to have parts of the Park pretty much to ourselves. It was the middle of April and the South African summer was drawing to a close. We didn’t go to Cape Point and only briefly stopped in the car park at the Cape of Good Hope. A constant steam of minibuses was heading for the Point and the Cape of Good Hope was bustling. But in the other parts of the Park - Buffels Bay, Olifantbos Bay and sections in between we were on our own.

 

The southwesterly gale was blowing insistently on our second visit, tossing the fynbos vegetation around and whipping up the sea. It did feel amazing to be at the end of Africa – everything seemed condensed and crystalised, washed clean, brilliant in the piercing, effervescent light. The colours of the fynbos, which is like a miniature forest, a strange mix of bonsai Zen garden and a weird over-sized remodelling of heather moorland and succulent plants. At times you could think you were in the far north west of Scotland – particularly the area between the Suilven and the Summer Isles.

 

And it felt so different looking out into the South Atlantic ocean from Olifantbos Bay knowing that there was nothing out there for 8,000 kilometres until Uruguay. I’ve stood many times in Cornwall and looked out from headlands near Land’s End thinking about the distance to Nova Scotia but this felt more immense, knowing that there was nothing between us and Antarctica another 5,500 kilometres away.

 

Most of these photos appear somewhere else on this site with some explanation of what is in them but not here. If you are interested the slide show starts looking down on Smitswinkel Bay on the east  of the peninsula, then goes to Buffel’s Bay, with views south down to Cape Point. It then heads for Olifantbos Bay on the West Coast working down to the Cape of Good Hope before driving back out of the Park. It was a breath-taking experience.